Howdy. I just got back from a roadtrip through Belgium, which was an interesting albeit tumultuous adventure. Whenever I travel, I always try to find out what the anime community in my destination is like. To that end, I made sure to check out anime-themed stores wherever I could find them. I even stayed in an anime-themed hotel for some of this journey.
The anime stores I visited in Belgium were really nice and often quite large too. Unfortunately, that didn’t translate to much personal success for me. Turns out that most manga in Belgium—even the Dutch parts of the country—is mostly in French. I can’t speak French. Besides that, most stores had the usual stock of supplies: walls of Funko Pops, figures for mainstream anime, and nostalgia merch for the likes of Pokémon and Dragon Ball. Nothing that really stood out to me.
Most stores did have interesting specialties on the side though. Akiba Station in Antwerp had lots of import candy for example and Ichiban in Brussels had an entire separate store for the stuff. Other shops would have lots of K-pop merch or an entire aisle of Gunpla. In the end, this is what I managed to score:
It’s not much, but I was very excited to find some of these. We got both volumes of the original Cutie Honey manga from 1973, a Cutie Honey Flash wallet still in original packaging, and an artbook called Animated Life / Otaku Futurism. Additionally, I picked up some of Furata figures from the World of Go Nagai line. That being Cutie Honey, Akira Fudo from Devilman, and Violence Jack. The person who I bought these from mentioned having another figure from this collection, but it had already been sold. Still 3/8 is not bad for a start.
The books are all used, but in mint condition. Though one volume of Cutie Honey does appear to be a missprint of some sort, as the magazine’s title is not correct. AniList has the correct cover on record for comparison. I already browsed through the artbook a bit, but it’s… weird. In an interesting way. It uses filtered images from vintage anime regarded as being particularly high-brow. Serial Experiments Lain, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Akira, you get it. This is accompanied by text that randomly switches between English and Japanese. It passionately defends the virtues of the otaku lifestyle, often with a poetic twist. I am going to dive more into it, but first impressions got me curious.
The figures have been given a place in one of my display cabinet, though their placing isn’t permanent yet. I am still trying to organize my displays so there is some thematic logic to them. At least Chino is now very well defended by an assemble of armed guards.